By Langton Nyakwenda
Highlanders might not have won the Premier Soccer League title in the last 14 years but club chairman, Kenneth Mhlope, believes the country’s oldest top-flight side has made notable strides in the last three seasons.
Bosso last won the league championship in 2006 under coach Methembe Ndlovu and since then, the Bulawayo giants have watched from backstage as the likes of Dynamos, CAPS United, Motor Action, Gunners, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum took turns on the podium.
However, Mhlope, a former ZIFA Class Three referee who was elected Bosso chairman in February 2018, reckons his executive has done a lot at Highlanders to warrant another term in office.
Subject to prevailing Covid-19 regulations, Highlanders will hold their annual meeting and elections next month.
Three executive posts are up for grabs with Mhlope lining up against Johnfat Sibanda for the chairmanship post.
Sibanda is a Bulawayo businessman and farmer who has been involved with the club in different backroom activities.
Victoria Falls-based Morgen Dube is angling for the secretary-general’s post which is currently held by Israel Moyo, who apparently is yet to declare his candidature.
Bheka Sibanda and Mgcini Mafu are vying for the committee member’s post.
Highlanders go into the elections on the backdrop of some notable achievements, the latest being the US$300 000 kit sponsorship deal signed with On The Ball Sports, a United Kingdom-based firm.
Bosso are the reigning Chibuku Super Cup champions after edging Ngezi Platinum Stars 1-0 in November 2019.
The 2020 edition of the country’s premier knockout competition was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And Mhlope, who oversaw the clearance of a long-standing US$860 000 legacy debt during his tenure, is adamant this upward trajectory could be disturbed if the club’s leadership is tampered with.
He believes continuity is what is needed given that the Bosso ship has steadied.
“If I am given another mandate, I am certain the projects we have initiated will be implemented successfully and change the face of our club for generations to come,” Mhlope told The Sunday Mail Sport.
“My mandate as given by the members at the last election was to make sure that I arrested the legacy debt, making sure that it didn’t balloon.
“This, I managed by living within our means and making sure I introduced a business culture at the club.
“We have achieved this to a greater extent despite that we have had a whole football-less season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Further, we managed to pay the players’ salaries, albeit without a main sponsor from March 2020 when NetOne withdrew their sponsorship,” said Mhlope.
While champions FC Platinum and other corporate-backed clubs like Ngezi Platinum Stars and Chicken Inn have in recent years, proven they have what it takes to upset the local football hegemony, Mhlope is confident Highlanders will soon bounce back to the top.
“I have the strategy to take Bosso back to its former glory as a highly successful club,” said Mhlope, a retired Zimbabwe National Army colonel, who also played a role in the formation of Black Rhinos in the early 1980s.
“My executive and I have been tirelessly thinking outside the box, hence this mining venture which if professionally managed will bring the financial strength to the club, something that has affected us in previous years.
“Those three teams (FC Platinum, Chicken Inn, and Ngezi) are in that position because of their financial strength.
“My ambition and indeed those of most of our members is to transform our club into a sporting giant both in terms of field and financial success.
“We have pursued during my time, and have been granted a mining licence, which is a departure from the tradition for football clubs like ours.
“We are proud to have achieved all this during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I want to be a big part of this growth because I see the future in my mind’s eye. It’s not the end but the beginning for me and the club at large,” said the Bosso chairman.
Highlanders’ coffers were boosted by the sale of star striker Prince Dube, who joined ambitious Tanzanian side Azam FC in August 2020.
Bosso pocketed US$50 000 from the deal. The Sunday Mail